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Funds Tagged For Chapter 1, City Schools

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WASHINGTON--Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander last week proposed that $100 million that had been set aside for new programs be used to aid growing school districts and inner-city schools, and to involve defense personnel in schools.

Mr. Alexander last year asked lawmakers to include money in the fiscal 1992 spending bill to fund his America 2000 education strategy. Appropriators did so, but specified that if those programs were not separately authorized by the Congress by April 1, the funds would be "allocated among existing programs which provide direct assistance to local school districts in reaching the America 2000 education goals.''

The Congress has essentially rejected America 2000, and a Democratic alternative is still pending.

Mr. Alexander outlined his proposals in a letter to Congressional funding panels last week. Lawmakers would not need to approve his suggestions if the proposals conformed to the restrictions, but apparently they do not.

The funding bill passed last year limited the funds to "national programs in which funds are distributed by statutory formula.'' Only one of Mr. Alexander's proposals--to distribute $62.1 million under Chapter 1 to school districts where enrollments of disadvantaged children increased between 1980 and 1990--involves a formula grant. The Secretary also proposed a new funding mechanism, acknowledging that this would require legislation.

The plan would aid districts that would have received more Chapter 1 money if it had been distributed under new 1990 Census data. Mr. Alexander decided in April to allocate fiscal 1992 grants using 1980 data, because 1990 data would not be available soon enough.

Mr. Alexander also proposed:

  • $18 million for grants to cities to fight drugs and violence by sponsoring "alternative activities'' in schools before and after normal hours.
  • Earmarking $9 million for Los Angeles, in response to the recent riots there, including $7 million to fund job training and education for at-risk youth and adults under a vocational-education demonstration program, and $2 million to help fulfill a commitment President Bush made to provide $18 million to the city under the Administration's "weed and seed'' program.

Mr. Alexander's letter says the funds would be spent "under the authority of'' the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching, but they would pay for efforts to "weed'' criminals from neighborhoods and "seed'' the areas with social programs.

  • $4 million to fund "schools within schools,'' in which Defense Department personnel would teach and provide technical training.
  • $6 million to help states develop alternative-certification routes for displaced defense workers interested in teaching math and science.

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